Nassau County Executive Laura Curran announced that Nassau County leads New York State in self-responses to the Census online, by phone, or mail. According to data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau as of May 22 2020, 65.7% of Nassau County residents have responded to the Census, the highest percentage collected statewide to date.
Although the County has demonstrated significant progress compared to a decade ago, Curran today highlighted disparities in response rates in predominantly black and brown communities as a remaining concern. Speaking at Nassau’s Office of Hispanic Affairs, Curran noted that the Village of Hempstead had a 47% response rate, a figure which can still be improved before the new October 31st deadline for self-responses. Pointing to COVID-19’s devastating impact on communities of color and Nassau’s urgent need for federal funding, Curran announced a renewed, multi-lingual public awareness campaign urging residents to respond to the Census.
“When it comes to the Census, the stakes have never been higher for Nassau. That’s why I’m renewing our push to encourage every resident who calls Nassau County home to Complete The Count. This Census is about more than just ensuring we finally get our fair share of federal government dollars when we need it most. The next five months are a once-in-a-decade opportunity for us to directly combat the inequities this crisis has laid bare,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.
In 2010, 75 percent of Nassau County residents self-responded to the Census after the initial questionnaire was mailed to households. An undercount of a region’s population results in a reduction of funding for schools, infrastructure, health care services, and economic development for an entire decade. The U.S. Census Bureau had calculated Nassau as the fifth “hardest-to-count” county in New York State because of its high proportion of traditionally undercounted groups, such as communities of color, immigrants, children under 5, and renters.
In February 2019, County Executive Curran took action by launching the Nassau County Complete County Committee (CCC). In partnership with Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, Nassau’s CCC engaged key constituencies to increase awareness and motivate residents to complete the Census. Subcommittees focused on outreach to businesses, local government, senior citizens, communications, early childhood providers, education, faith based outreach, people of color and immigrants.
The County held several Census job fairs and internal County initiatives promoting the Census. County Executive Curran mobilized the Offices of Hispanic Affairs, Asian-American Affairs, and Office of Minority Affairs in particular to lead outreach efforts across communities in Nassau. Since early 2019, County Executive Curran has led an “aggressive” public awareness push highlighting the importance of the Census.
The census is used to fund $675 billion in federal programs, including for hospitals, roads and bridges, public schools, disaster assistance, food assistance (including SNAP and the National School Lunch Program), Section 8 Housing, Head Start, and the Community Development Block Grants. Census data determines political representation, both on the federal and local level. This includes the electoral votes each state receives. Businesses also use Census data to make investment, hiring, and re-location decisions.